It’s time we do another one of these celebrations, don’t you think? Tonight seems like a perfect night to do so.
Tonight calls for a celebration! The Colorado Avalanche will be hosting the Stanley Cup and raising their new 2022 Stanley Cup Champions banner to the rafters alongside those from 1996 and 2001. They get to do it in front of a sold-out crowd, and with a historic team that has done plenty of banner raisings themselves: the Chicago Blackhawks.
While the Avs have their celebrations planned and festivities ready for all 18,000 inside, they still have a game to play afterward too. While it’s only game one of the season, it’s still an important Central Division matchup where the Avs should get points early on against what is going to be a struggling Hawks side.
The Avs had a short summer after playing until late June to win the Stanley Cup. Therefore, they are technically the “least rested side” but that will not affect them at all whatsoever despite having a fun summer with the Cup.
However, the lineup will look a little bit different than it did that fantastic June night in Tampa Bay. With some losses in the market this summer along with some lingering injuries from that series, some of the new names include Anton Blidh, Ben Meyers, and Lukas Sedlak.
All three names battled it out to earn an Opening Night roster spot and will fill in the bottom six. This is due in part to promotion from the bottom six for Alex Newhook, who will get his first full-time experience as the second-line center replacing Nazem Kadri. All four names will be those to watch alongside the usuals like Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, but they won’t have captain Gabriel Landeskog who remains out to injury.
Artturi Lehkonen (62) - Nathan MacKinnon (29) - Mikko Rantanen (96)
Evan Rodrigues (9) - Alex Newhook (18) - Valeri Nichushkin (13)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - J.T. Compher (37) - Logan O’Connor (25)
Lukas Sedlak (22) - Ben Meyers (59) - Anton Blidh (36)
Devon Toews (7) - Cale Makar (8)
Bowen Byram (4) - Josh Manson (42)
Sam Girard (49) - Erik Johnson (6)
The Blackhawks will be involved in the Opening Night ceremonies and Stanley Cup celebrations, but not in the way they’ve been involved in the past. Rather, the Blackhawks are far from the success of the Avs and Hawks of the 2010s.
They have fully accepted going into rebuild mode and this has included moves away from stars like Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach. Meanwhile, veterans like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are eyeing moves away themselves. Despite bringing in another veteran and former Avs member Jack Johnson, the Hawks will be in for a long season.
Something that does go in Chicago’s favor is their chance to perhaps win this game. Dave Melton from Second City Hockey mentioned in the Mile High Hockey Lab podcast this past week that the Hawks had lost every banner-raising game because of the anticipation and forgetfulness of playing a hockey game after the event. They’ll look to be on the winning end this time and push the Avs to the bottom of the Central Division to start the year.
Andreas Athanasiou (89) - Max Domi (13) - Patrick Kane (88)
Tyler Johnson (90) - Jonathan Toews (19) - Taylor Raddysh (11)
Philipp Kurashev (23) - Sam Lafferty (24) - MacKenzie Entwistle (58)
Colin Blackwell (43) - Jujhar Khaira (16) - Buddy Robinson (53)
Jack Johnson (8) - Seth Jones (4)
Jarred Tinordi (25) - Connor Murphy (5)
Filip Roos (48) - Alec Regula (75)
For Chicago, they have lost their regulars including Marc-Andre Fleury to the Central Division rival Minnesota Wild so they will rely on newcomer Petr Mrazek.
For the Avs, Jared Bednar continues to keep his cards close for his goaltenders as he has in the past. However, it has been suggested that Alexandar Georgiev is the number one in Colorado, so look for him to get his first career start in an Avs uniform. But, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he chose Pavel Francouz either.